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One of the country’s top abortion-rights activists is warning that the Supreme Court’s recent inaction on Texas’ extremely restrictive new abortion law could signal the end of judicial checks and balances on the issue. Former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told The Associated Press this week that the court's decision to let the law take effect may mean assumed court protections on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision are dissolving. Richards released a letter Saturday warning that Texas' Republican leaders "have outlined a roadmap for other Republican governors to follow suit, with the acquiescence of the Supreme Court.” The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity — usually around six weeks.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed over abortion and vaccination policies in Virginia’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election season. Each sought to cast the other as extreme on major issues Thursday. The race is being closely watched as a possible indicator of national voter sentiment. Asked his position on President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates, Youngkin called himself a strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines but said he thought the president lacked the authority to “dictate” that workers receive one. McAuliffe criticized Youngkin as failing to show leadership, saying the Republican has undermined vaccine efforts and would unleash the virus by not mandating inoculations.

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Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed over abortion and vaccination policies in Virginia’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election season. Each sought to cast the other as extreme on major issues Thursday. The race is being closely watched as a possible indicator of national voter sentiment. Asked his position on President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates, Youngkin called himself a strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines but said he thought the president lacked the authority to “dictate” that workers receive one. McAuliffe criticized Youngkin as failing to show leadership, saying the Republican has undermined vaccine efforts and would unleash the virus by not mandating inoculations.

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The City Council in Portland, Oregon, has scrapped a plan to boycott Texas businesses because of a new law that prohibits most abortions there, deciding to instead set aside $200,000 to fund reproductive care. The liberal Pacific Northwest city made headlines earlier this month when Mayor Ted Wheeler announced plans to boycott Texas by banning city business with the Lone Star State. However the proposal was abandoned due to concerns it could be “punitive to Texans who, are in fact, the most affected” by the abortion law. The plan to fund reproductive services passed 4-1 on Wednesday.

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The new Texas law that bans most abortions in the state is being welcomed by many of the religious leaders who help bolster the anti-abortion movement. Yet some abortion opponents in U.S. religious circles are wary of the law and questioning the movement’s current direction. Some of the wariness relates to the law’s most novel feature: It authorizes private citizens to sue anyone they deem to be assisting in an abortion. And those accusers have a chance to gain $10,000 in the process. Abortion foes who question the law say this provision will be viewed as troublesome and fuel a strong backlash from supporters of abortion rights. 

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Abortion providers in Texas say they have seen a sharp drop in patients in the two weeks since the nation’s strictest abortion law took effect. In new court filings in Texas, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers describe clinics that have turned away more than 100 women under the new law. It prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks. That’s before some women know they’re pregnant. The Biden administration is seeking an emergency order to temporarily block enforcement of the law in Texas.

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Pope Francis says Catholic bishops must minister to politicians who back abortion rights with “compassion and tenderness,” not condemnation. And he is warning that they shouldn’t let politics enter into questions about receiving Communion. Francis was asked en route home from Slovakia about the debate in the U.S. church about whether President Joe Biden and other politicians should be denied Communion because of their stances on abortion.  Francis declined to give a “yes” or “no” answer, saying he didn’t know the U.S. case well enough. He repeated that abortion was “homicide,” and that Catholic priests cannot give the Eucharist to someone who is not in communion with the church.  Most importantly, he said, was that priests and bishops must respond pastorally.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom turned back a recall attempt by motivating fellow Democrats who showed little interest during much of the campaign. California voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to keep the first-term Democrat in office. Newsom seemed vulnerable earlier this year as frustration over the coronavirus and restrictions that he imposed reached a boiling point. But he managed to energize Democratic voters and others by warning that the race was close and saying that if a Republican governor was elected, the result would threaten California's progress on abortion rights, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. 

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 file photo, a security guard opens the door to the Whole Women's Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas. A Texas law banning most abortions in the state took effect at midnight. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

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FILE - In this May 5, 2021, file photo, Texas state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, center at lectern, stands with fellow lawmakers in the House Chamber in Austin, Texas, as she opposes a bill introduced that would ban abortions as early as six weeks and allow private citizens to enforce it through civil lawsuits, under a measure given preliminary approval by the Republican-dominated House. The law went into effect on Sept. 1. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)